CHESHIRE – Winning has been a bonus this season for the Cheshire boys’ basketball team. On Friday night, the Rams must have felt like they let one escape on their own turf.
Cheshire had several chances to beat Shelton in the dying minutes of the match but fell to the Gaels 47-46 in a four-win SCC Quinnipiac Division clash.
The Rams led 46-45 with 1:46 left on Jack Markarian’s field goal after recovering from an eight-point deficit to start the final quarter.
Cheshire would then find themselves trailing by what turned out to be the final score with 1:14 remaining after a pair of free throws by Shelton senior Siomar Rodriguez.
And after the teams traded turnovers over the next 30 seconds, the Rams were able to work the ball to 6-foot-6 sophomore Jayden Reid after a timeout.
But his lopsided inside shot was long with less than 10 seconds left.
Shelton bounced off Reid’s miss and fed the ball to Rodriguez, who was fouled with 4.1 seconds left.
Rodriguez, however, missed the start of a 1-on-1 situation. The Rams fed the ball to EJ Quint, whose 3-point desperation at the buzzer was partially blocked to seal the Rams’ fate.
Cheshire have fallen to 4-11 this season, while Shelton have improved to 5-12.
“This one hurts,” said Markarian, who had a career-best night with 23 points but ultimately felt the sting of another loss.
“We thought we could win tonight, but we have a lot of young guys,” added Markarian, the only returning college starter. “That’s what happened tonight: they have the experience.”
Markarian was the only double-digit Ram. Cheshire got seven points from Quint and Matt Jeffrey.
Cheshire led 26-25 at halftime but allowed 17 points in the third period to trail 42-34 heading into the final quarter.
The third quarter turned out to be the Rams’ loss.
“Those 17 points lost us the game,” said Cheshire junior Drew Vagts.
It was a Vagts hat-trick on a timeout with 2:07 remaining that put the Rams up 45-44. Markarian then hit another inside hoop to give Cheshire their final lead, 46-45, with 1:42 remaining.
“We haven’t been in a lot of close situations; we are such a young team,” Vagts said. “We had two games drawn, but we threw them away.”
“(Cheshire head coach Dan Lee) was just trying to calm us down: ‘Just run plays like we run them in training,'” Markarian said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t do that. “
Lee called two timeouts in the final minute of the game, the first after Rodriguez’s free throws.
Shelton came out of that first break trapping for the first time in the game. As a result, the Gaels forced a turnover when Vinny DeFeo (team-high 17 points) stripped the ball from Markarian with 36 seconds left.
But the Gaels returned the ball straight away, as Eric Levens found himself on a loose ball in midfield and was fouled to give the Rams one last chance.
Lee called time out with 16 seconds left and Cheshire lost a point. The ball eventually found Reid in the paint, but his off-balance shot went long.
“Being in this situation just shows that they work very hard and are never offside,” Lee said. “It was just a different situation that we had never been in before.
“We have a group of players who are getting their first shot (in college) this year. We are improving as we go. »
The loss was the second heartbreaking straight for the Rams, who lost Tuesday night by four points to Sheehan.
“One-point losses are a little prickly,” Lee said. “You feel like a lay-up or a few missed shots (to win).”
Cheshire and Shelton were tied 32-32 midway through the third quarter after a bucket from Rams rookie Tristan Washington. The Gaels, however, led a 10-2 run to close out the period and take a 42-34 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Rams led 26-25 at halftime, using an 11-5 run midway through the second quarter to take the lead. Quint and Jeffrey’s 3 straight points put Cheshire ahead 18-16. Markarian then scored six of the Rams’ next eight points to force the Gaels to call a 26-21 timeout.
Earlier, Markarian put the Rams up 20-18 with some nice inside movement. The striker then sank two free throws after being fouled in the paint and his fastbreak layup ended Cheshire’s run.
Markarian scored 10 points in the first half, while Quint scored seven points in the second quarter.
Cheshire trailed 14-10 after the first period as the Rams committed six turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game to fall behind.
A Jeffrey layup gave Cheshire their first lead, but after the teams traded baskets the Rams turned the ball over on three straight possessions to fall behind 11-6. Baskets from Markarian and Reid took the Rams to 14-10.